American senior citizens who live in warm areas are more likely to endure “serious vision impairment” compared to those in colder regions, new research from the University of Toronto has found.
Seniors who live in counties where the average temperature is 60 degrees or higher are at a 44% heightened risk of visual distress, according to the study.
There is also a 24% increased risk for those living in an area that averages between 55 and 59 degrees, and a 14% one for counties that average above 50 degrees.
“This link between vision impairment and average county temperature is very worrying if future research determines that the association is causal,” said lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson.
“With climate change, we are expecting a rise in global temperatures. It will be important to monitor if the prevalence of vision impairment among older adults increases in the future.”
The researcher also noted that the results were consistent among seniors and did not vary much for differences among sex, income or education.
“It was powerful to see that the link between vision impairment and temperature was consistent across so many demographic factors including income,” co-author Elysia Fuller-Thomson said.
Surprisingly, more severe vision impairment was found in those aged 65 to 79 as opposed to seniors who are 80 or older, the research found.
Study authors suggested that ultraviolet light exposure, air pollution and infections are the major culprits behind the strange trend.
“This novel finding introduces more questions than it answers, including what the connection between average county temperature and vision impairment is,” Esme Fuller-Thomson said.
“Moving forward, we plan to investigate whether county temperature is also associated with other disabilities among older adults such as hearing problems and limitations in daily activities.”